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DOES MORAL REASONING REPRESENT SOCIOMORAL STRUCTURE OR POLITICAL IDEOLOGY? A FURTHER EXPLORATION OF THE RELATIONS BETWEEN MORAL REASONING, POLITICAL ATTITUDES, CONSISTENCY OF MORAL THOUGHT, AND THE EVALUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN DUTCH YOUNG ADULTS

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Abstract:

The relations between moral reasoning and political attitudes were examined in a representative sample of 2520 Dutch adolescents and young adults. This study was repeated for a second, select sample, 210 Dutch university students. In the latter study both moral reasoning and political attitudes were related to the evaluation of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Moral reasoning was measured using the N2 index of the Defining Issues Test (Rest, 1979a). Political attitudes were measured using 10 Likert-type multiitem scales, representing both the cultural and the economic dimension of general political ideology. Participants' general moral thought was identified through their evaluation of the 30 articles of the UDHR. The intraindividual consistency of the evaluation of the 30 UDHR articles was used as a measure of the structure of moral thought. Factor analyses revealed that moral reasoning represented something different from political ideology. Regression analyses demonstrated that only a minor part of the variance in moral reasoning scores could be predicted by the combined effect of political attitudes. Moral reasoning scores were not related to the consistency of the evaluation of the 30 UDHR articles. Using SEM analyses, several models were tested describing the relations of moral reasoning, political ideology and consistency with the evaluation of human rights. It appeared that these variables all uniquely contributed to the explanation of moral thought.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2006.34.6.617

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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